NASA Discovers the Reason for Curiosity's Sudden Glitch

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 - 1:38PM
Tuesday, 12 July 2016 - 1:38PM
Over Fourth of July weekend, Curiosity had a sudden error and unexpectedly entered "safe mode." Now, NASA has discovered the reason behind the glitch, and luckily, it's entirely fixable.

On July 2, the Curiosity rover entered "safe mode," which essentially means shutting down all operations that aren't necessary for keeping it alive. It started communicating with Earth within a few days, but researchers were still hesitant to resume the science mission until the exact cause of the glitch was discovered. 

Fortunately, NASA announced yesterday that Curiosity was resuming full operations, since they have finally uncovered the cause of the error. They determined that it was a "software mismatch," or an error in the communication between the rover's camera software and the data-processing software back on Earth. And luckily for all of us who enjoy Curiosity's science and selfies, the problem is easily avoidable by slightly altering the science mission so the rover doesn't run into any more glitches.

Opening quote
The most likely cause of entry into safe mode has been determined to be a software mismatch in one mode of how image data are transferred on board. Science activity planning for the rover is avoiding use of that mode, which involves writing images from some cameras' memories into files on the rover's main computer.
Closing quote

It's a good thing NASA was able to recover the rover, considering that earlier this month, they approved a 2-year extension of Curiosity's mission. Its mission was originally extended indefinitely in 2012, but will receive another two-year stay officially starting on October 1.

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